It isn’t easy to sell out the Fillmore. It’s a place steeped in historical significance and that significance is no more prevalent than in the poster room where decades of musical history hit you in the face. Every sold out show gets a poster on the wall. That’s the promise the Fillmore has given to every act; that their day is commemorated as historical. The one caveat being that they sell out enough time in advance and are worthy of having a poster. It’s a special distinction that many do not get.
Saturday night was a special night as Akron/Family and Two Gallants took over the Fillmore with such a fury that the mosh pit looked more like a war zone with bloodied bodies and ripped clothing fragments scattered about as if discarded for protection purposes. We arrived right before Akron/Family hit the stage. The talk was mostly about plans for Super Bowl Sunday, where the party was taking place and whether there was a better chance of the city going up in flames if the Niners won or lost (even odds). We walked in and got as close to the stage as the crowd would allow.
Akron/Family took the stage in a mysterious fog. Not the usual San Franciscan weed haze, but a Michael Jackson Thrilleresque fog that clung to Miles Seaton beard like George Costanza ensconced in velvet. They started with a sort of guttural moaning that amped the crowd up, then they began into a raucous set that blew out eardrums and made people move in ways that they otherwise wouldn’t. It was loud, but not obnoxious. It wasn’t for the timid and that’s the way Akron/Family’s brand of Prog rock is supposed to be digested. The sound was magnificent and the contrast between some of their lighter fare and some of their heavier anthemic sounding songs was prevalent as they bounced back and forth.
The only umbrage I take with the set was that it seemed shortened by the time constricted managers of the Fillmore, but it was more than made up for with a set that included songs from their upcoming album Sub Verses (out April 30 on Dead Oceans/Family Tree) and older songs the masses could sing along to. The crowd was very enthused with this performance by the preeminent Prog rock band around today.
San Francisco’s own Two Gallants took the stage next to the kind of thunderous applause reserved only for hometown favorites and the mention of any local sports team at any time ever. I’ve always had the thought that Two Gallants were a softer version of Metallica, maybe a good 1990’s style Metallica. In the sub-subgenre of two man bands Two Gallants fit somewhere in between White Stripes and Black Keys style rock n’ roll and Japandroids style of all out, leave-everything-on-the-stage punk rock. Tyson Vogel, the drummer, is the driving force of excitement as far as movement goes, but Adam Stephens, the raspy, gravelly voice that shreds through the silence like a knife through butter, is the cause of the anticipation.
Stephens is the reason people jump around with his demonic facial expressions to the way he seamlessly screams out lyrics in some songs and calmly sings others. Saturday was no different, as it was no easy task to follow up Akron/Family’s love fest with the unusually amped crowd. It took a couple of local boys to bring it up to an even higher notch and cause the thrilled crowd to sing along to every song while crashing into each other at such ferocity that it could’ve easily been mistaken with a demolition derby. The show turned into a pseudo Kumbaya setting at the moment Two Gallants played “Steady Rollin’” their dedication of love to the Bay Area. It went from great to memorable and the way every single person sang that song and the way Akron/Family showed San Francisco what loud really was is the way I will choose to remember this night.